Posts Tagged ‘armchair traveling’

1st May
written by Steph

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman

[Note: this review is also posted at travel blog, Twenty Years Hence. Sorry for the cross-post for those of you who are subscribed to both (but thanks for supporting all our endeavors!).]
For me, the very best books, regardless of genre, are the ones that whisk me away from my own life and allow me to see and understand the world in a way I hadn’t before. If there’s one type of book with an innate affinity to do this very thing, surely it is the travel memoir! The very best of their kind aren’t just about traveling around in strange lands, encountering odd social customs and nibbling on questionable foods—though those anecdotes are fascinating in their own ways)—but are about the personal transformation that occurs when we venture out of our homes and leave the safety and security of the familiar behind.
As my own big trip looms larger with each passing day, it’s no surprise that I’ve been increasingly drawn to travel writing these past few months. Maybe I’m hoping to pick up tips and tricks along the way to ensure my trip is more successful, or maybe I’m hoping for inspiration… deep down, I think I just want reassurance that Tony and I aren’t alone in this dream and that leaving our current life to travel will turn out ok. I know that even in the pages of books, happy endings aren’t guaranteed, but I still can’t help but search for them nevertheless. To this end, I’ve been really gratified to find that the Nashville Public Library system has an awesome digitial travel collection, the irony being that now I can travel the world without even leaving the comfort of my home, not even to get a book! If that’s not the best of both worlds, then I don’t know what is. Anyway, NPL has a pretty bitchin’ selection of titles, ranging from actual travel guides to help you plan your stay, to memoirs and pieces of writing to inspire you to get off your lazy butt and actually go somewhere. This is how I stumbled across The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost (known as TGGG henceforth). (more…)
1st November
written by Steph

OK, so I’m a day late when it comes to posting something for Halloween, but I’m going to go ahead and post this anyway. It’s not like it was really all that spooky or holiday appropriate to begin with, but when I started typing this up yesterday, spookiness was in the air. I felt left out as everyone else posted cute pictures of jack-o-lanterns and reviews of spine-chilling reads, and while I have read some pretty scary books in the past few weeks, I’m still dealing with review back-log. So, I decided I would just take the next book on my queue and make it fit with the Halloween theme. But you know what? The Lost City of Z by David Grann was actually not such a bad pick for Halloween! You know why? Because the Amazon is frickin’ terrifying! I am not sure if this book says so explicitly, but the Amazon pretty much has the largest population of weird stuff that can (and will!) kill you. PLUS, all of this stuff really exists, which I think bumps the fear factor up a couple of notches as well. Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain what this book is about for the tiny proportion of people out there who haven’t heard about it. Essentially, The Lost City of Z is the travel memoir of David Grann, who becomes obsessed with British explorer, Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett. During his lifetime, Fawcett was a real trailblazer, traveling fearlessly into the blank spaces on the map in order to chart them. Where other explorers quavered and failed, Fawcett prevailed; if reality tv had been around in Fawcett’s time, he would have handily won Survivor, several times over. Especially if it took place in the wilds of South America, since that was Fawcett’s preferred niche, and it became a bit of an fascination for him. In particular, Fawcett embarked on numerous treks into the heart of the Amazon, determined to find the novel’s namesake, the lost city of Z. More commonly known in legend as El Dorado, Fawcett believed that Z had indeed existed and could still be found, if only one were brave and savvy enough. (more…)
18th May
written by Steph

Get lost and stay lost!

Like many people out there, Tony and I love to travel. I am always a little bit suspicious of people who claim to have no interest in visiting or seeing new places or ever leaving the country. I truly believe that travel expands the mind and provides a perspective that books and other media simply cannot offer. For my money, there are few things I can imagine that are a better investment than travel. In fact, for the past few years Tony and I have been saving up our pennies to take the ultimate adventure once I finish graduate school: a round-the-world trip that will last somewhere from 12 – 18 months. Of course, because I'm a planner, I’ve spent tons of time researching countries and coming up with a rough travel plan. We’ve spent countless hours watching shows like Departures and No Reservations, trying to decide which parts of the globe we need to see firsthand. It’s nice to see the vitality captured through film and television, but of course I’ve spent a lot of time reading travel books and have been really interested in bulking up on my travel memoir reading as well. So when I saw that The Lost Girls was being offered on TLC Tours, I asked Trish if I could get my hands on the copy since it sounded like a book that would be great inspiration for my own. (more…)
24th August
written by Steph

One of the places I’d really like to travel one day (and trust me, there are so many) is Thailand. I’m intrigued by the food, the people, the culture, and of course the geography. From the jungles, to the cities, to the beaches, Thailand is a place I can imagine spending a lot of time exploring. If plane tickets over to Asia weren’t so prohibitively expensive from the East coast of North America, you can bet that I’d have already been there by now. Alas, ticket prices being what they are, for now I’ll have to slake my desire for Thailand through fiction. Of course, one of thing I’ve found is that it’s not all that easy to find fiction set in Thailand, and certainly not fiction written by native Thais (at least that’s been translated into English). Mostly I’ve resorted to picking up books by farangs (Westerners) set in Thailand when they’ve appealed, which is perhaps less than ideal, but beggars can’t be choosers, after all. A few years ago I read Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski, which took me into the wilds of Thai hillside tribes. Recently on a whim, I picked up Alex Garland’s The Beach, which took me to the Southern reaches of Thailand, allowing me to vicariously visit its lush, tropical beaches. (more…)
30th November
written by Steph
Hello, internet friends!  We hope you all had a wonderful weekend, regardless of whether it was a long Thanksgiving break for you (as it was here at S&TI!), or just a regular two-day job.  Any time that can be spent in one's pajamas is always time well spent is my way of thinking!  Our Thanksgiving was rather quiet as we just celebrated as we traditionally do, with a huge feast for just the two of us.  I know many people wouldn't bother making a turkey for such a small number, but I think this is a real oversight, as it clearly neglects to consider the glory that is LEFTOVERS.  I ask you, is there anything better than leftover turkey sandwiches, crammed full with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy?  Clearly not!  So on Thursday I went to town when it came to our Thanksgiving feast, and consequently, I have had to do no cooking since then (though our microwave has gotten quite the work out), and probably won't have to for much of this week either... huzzah! I must say that this year's Thanksgiving feast was probably our most successful, as the timing of the myriad of dishes worked out well, and pretty much everything was cooked flawlessly, and nary a complaint was to be found.  Here's a snapshot of Tony's plate before we chowed down:

Yum!  Truly a feast to be thankful for!

Yum! Truly a feast to be thankful for!

Starting at the "6 o'clock" position and working clockwise, here's a rundown of what I cooked (with links to recipes where appropriate, though I freely admit that I didn't follow anything strictly):
  • Pioneer Woman's Sweet Potatoes (with marshmallows!)
  • Stuffing (following my mom's recipe, which is without a doubt the surefire way to get the absolute BEST stuffing)
  • Roast Heritage Turkey with Bacon & Cider Gravy (we used a little Butterball turkey as we aren't millionaires who can go and buy our turkey at Whole Foods and I skipped the Dijon in the butter concoction, but it still turned out succulent and delicious... and the gravy... oh, probably the best gravy I have every made!  We don't make turkeys often, but the next time I do, this is the recipe I'll follow.)
  • Carrot & Turnip Mash
  • Smoked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
  • Creamed Kale
  • Dessert (not pictured): Maple Pumpkin Pie (divine!  Though we didn't do the leaf lattice for the top because we are not actually Martha Stewart)
Everything was so scrumptious and paired nicely with the raspberry lambic we picked up on a whim at Trader Joe's earlier in the week.  Honestly, I love Thanksgiving meals so much that maybe Tony & I should start celebrating both Canadian & American Thanksgiving so that we can have this glorious feast twice per year! Our Thanksgiving weekend was predominantly spent snuggled on our couch (in pajamas, obviously) playing video games and doing some serious armchair traveling via Rick Steves' Best of Europe on Hulu and some episodes of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.  Also, imagine my delight when I discovered that episodes of The Two Fat Ladies have been released on DVD and that our local library carries them... The show is even better than I remembered (even if the food is somehow worse and more offputting), and I was definitely giving thanks for that long forgotten gem.  Sigh.  Such a good weekend, and I hope yours were similarly good even if they were not at all similar! 😉 Anyway, back to the last week our regularly scheduled programming!  It's time to announce our final winner for the last week of giveaways celebrating our one year blogiversary!  Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions of books to read, and it's much appreciated that none of you suggested books that you figured we would hate but for the resultant amusing review.  Lots of good ideas, including some titles I'd never heard of.  But a winner needed to be selected, and according to the randomness of this number generator, that winner is Nadia of A Bookish Way of Life.  Nadia selected Margaret Atwood's newest novel, The Year of the Flood, so a copy will be making its way to her very shortly.  Congratulations, Nadia!  We hope you enjoy the book! To all of you who entered our various giveaways, thanks so much for being a part of the celebrations and helping us brainstorm new and fabulous directions to take the site in our second year of blogging!  Here's to many more, and we look forward to celebrating with all of you in another year's time!